. The British government in India had been hostile to the Congress from the beginning. Even after the Moderates, who dominated the Congress from the beginning, began distancing themselves from the militant nationalist trend which had become visible during the last decade of the nineteenth century itself, government hostility did not stop. This was because, in the government’s view, the Moderates still represented an anti-imperialist force consisting of basically patriotic and liberal intellectuals.
With the coming of Swadeshi and Boycott Movement and the emergence of militant nationalist trend in a big way, the government modified its strategy towards the nationalists. Now, the policy was to be of ‘rallying them’ (John Morley— the secretary of state) or the policy of ‘carrot and stick’. It may be described as a three-pronged approach of repression- conciliation-suppression. In the first stage, the Extremists were to be repressed mildly, mainly to frighten the Moderates. In the second stage, the Moderates were to be placated through some concessions, and hints were to be dropped that more reforms would be forthcoming if the distance from the Extremists was maintained. This was aimed at isolating the Extremists: With the Moderates on its side, the government could suppress the Extremists with its full might; the Moderates could then be ignored.
Unfortunately, neither the Moderates nor the Extremists understood the purpose behind the strategy. The Surat split suggested that the policy of carrot and stick had brought rich dividends to the British India government.